In a battle between British fighters at featherweight, high level wrestler Mike Grundy meets the well rounded Nad Narimani. Although Grundy opened the big underdog here, he was quickly bet down to almost a pick´em and maybe the value has been lost on him a little bit. I favour Grundy in this fight. He is the better wrestler and will put down Narimani down for sure. The question is, will he be able to keep him down? Grundy is no Jiu Jitsu wizard, his wrestling is classic and his submissions are mostly based on chasing the neck. He was a Commonwealthg games wrestling medalist. His striking is basic and just used to shorten the distance. If Narimani, a good wrestler himself, can keep getting up and making him work Grundy may end up fading down the strech and getting picked apart here. I think Grundy is gonna be able to take him down and control him most of the time though, and I think he will at least get the two rounds he needs to win the fight. As I said, Narimani is the better all around fighter but the fight is gonna be fought the way Grundy wants it, there is no other way around it unless Narimani hurts him very early or can stop the takedowns consistently which is a very odd possibility. The pick here is Grundy to cause the small upset and win a decision over the game Narimani, although a submission on a scramble where Narimani gives up his neck would be no surpirse.
In which should be a closely contested matchup at featherweight, Ali Abdelaziz employee Dan Ige fights Scotland´s own Danny “The Hatchet” Henry. Ige comes from winning a close decision against UFC newcomer Jordan Griffin in his last fight, while Henry had a long layoff after causing a big upset against Hakeem Dawodu.
Ige is Jiu Jitsu black belt who likes to be agressive from the opening bell. Although he is not a high level striker, he has a respectable punch and uses his agression to get his grappling game going. He is relentless with his takedowns early on and jumps on submission opportunities without hesitation. He also has some nasty ground and pound.
Henry is not a very athletic fighter but he has a very good gas tank. He is huge featherweight who has fought at lightweight before but is better suited for the 145 division where he enjoys a height and reach advantage over almost everybody. His striking is better than it seems and he has a sniper like straight right hand that he throws with power and precision. He is a competent grappler too and a very opportunistic submission finisher that chases the neck whenever he gets the chance.
How does this play out? Expect Ige to come out as always and attack inmediately with abandon. If he stays on the outside he is probably gonna get picked apart on the feet. Ige winning early would be no surprise if he can drag Danny to the matt and get a dominant position but I think the Hatchet is gonna weather the early storm and then put the pressure on Ige and stop him late. Also the odd submission by either one of them would be no surprise, specially by Henry in one of Ige´s takedown attemps or scrambles where he tends to leave his neck unprotected at times. Henry can also hurt Ige standing here at any moment judging by his fight with Griffin. I am picking Danny Henry to cause the upset here, and having finished 10 out of his 12 wins, with his only decision in the UFC being Daniel Teymur who barely survived and was saved by the bell twice, Danny Henry to win ITD at around (+450) is one of the best value bets available for this event.
This fight has “does not go the distance” written all over it. We cannot be sure how good Negumereanu is. He has feasted on complete bums in the regional scene on his way to a perfect record with nine finishes in nine contests. He appears to have decent striking and grappling but he has never been pushed nor being taken into deep waters.
Safarov is a though dagestani who also entered the UFC unbeaten and lost his first two fights by stoppage, but he had some success in both fights. He is a gritty wrestler with some power and fights hard. He is not gonna fold easily like a lot Negumereanu´s previous opponents. If Safarov takes him late I expect him to be able to outwrestle and grind him out which may lead to a submission which at the current (+900) odds seems a very reasonable value bet. The pick here is fight not to go the distance.
In what promises to be a potential fight of the night candidate, two very interesting middleweights meet for a chance to crack the top 15. Breese dispatched Dan Kelly inside one round in his last fight, while Heinisch beat the always dangerous and tricky “Mutante” Ferreira.
Breese is the most technical fighter here no doubt. His striking is sharp and clean and he has very good boxing. He employs a beautiful jab and his straight right hand to keep opponents at bay and eventually hurt them. He is also an underrated grappler with a very dangerous guard that can finish fights on the ground with no problem whatsoever. If Heinisch takes him down he would have to be careful with triangles and armbars.
Heinisch, who has an incredible background story that includes serving jail time in Spain for drug trafficking, has turned his life around to become a very good fighter. As though as they come, he is competent everywhere and has no fear of mixing it up with anybody, wether it is on the feet or on the ground. He pulled guard in his fight with Ferreira, a high level black belt, in one of the most gutsy/stupid moves I have seen recently. Heinisch jut does not give a fuck. If you fight him, you will know you have been in a fight after. With a very good chin to go with his abilities, Heinisch marches forward and simply outscores and outfights opposition until he gets the decision or the opponent simply cannot cope with the rythm and pressure.
How does this play out? Breese opened the clear favourite but since them line has moved to almost even. If Breese can keep Heinisch on the outside he will be able to pick him apart with his boxing. That is a tall order and I think he would need to hurt Heinisch to do so. I think Heinisch is simply going to outfight Breese here, walk through the fire and pressure him while mixing some takedowns in. If he can stay safe from Breese´s submission attemps, I expect Heinisch to win a good and closely contested fight. The pick is Heinisch to win. A late stoppage would be no surprise here.
After a long layoff, Duffy returns to meet once highly touted prospect Diakiese in a pivotal fight for the latter. We last saw Duffy stopped by James Vick in two rounds, while Diakase has dropped his last three octagon appearances.
Duffy is a well rounded fighter, well known for beating McGregor in their early regional scene days. He is a better grappler than he is a striker, but he does not chase the grappling with urgency. He likes to use his boxing oriented stance from which he uses the ocassional kick too in search for an opening to hurt the opponent or simply win rounds by pressuring. His UFC wins have come against low level fighters or veterans like Mitch Clarke, while he was soundly beaten by Dustin Poirier and James Vick.
Diakiese entered the UFC with an aura of top prospect and future title contender. After an impressive first three fights against low level opposition, he found himself in bad style matchups that he lost. He cannot cope very well with high level wrestlers or strikers, but he does everything well enough to compete with anybody and he is stupidly explosive and athletic. He has some power too, and is technical enough to get offensive takedowns when he needs them against non specialists.
Oddsmakers have Duffy the favourite here at almost three to one, which I think is an off line. Duffy is not a powerhouse by any means, not an elite wrestler and no killer on the feet, which means Diakase is very live here. While Duffy clearly has the better ground game between them, I think Diakiese packs the bigger punch. I feel Marc can keep this fight standing if he wants too and do well enough on the feet, and even hurt Duffy at some point. He probably can also mix some takedowns to get control time and steal rounds on top. I like the value on Diakiese as the dog to cause the big upset here and save his UFC contract. A poke on Diakase by knockout seems a good move too.
In an intriguing fight two interesting 145 pounders meet for a chance to climb the rankings. Allen comes from a submission over Mads Burnell in a fight in which he had been thoroughly dominated everywhere over three rounds, while Rinaldi completely dominated Jason Knight in his last contest after coming down from lightweight.
Allen is a young powerhouse with an outstanding physique. He is a decent striker with some power and is comfortable everywhere as he showed in his contest with Amirkhani. He has some respectable power in his hands and a good chin of his own.
Rinaldi is a grappler. His striking is pretty much erratic and he uses it to set up entries from where to implement his grappling game. He is a high level Jiu Jitsu black belt with very good control, scrambling and postional awareness. He is also a dangerous submission artist, but he will not compromise his position in favour of a submission in most cases. Position over submission. He is huge at featherweight and seems to have no problem with the weight cut.
How does this play out? If it stays on the feet, Allen wins the fight and maybe even hurts Rinaldi for the knockout at some point. Rinaldi will no doubt try to drag Allen down to win rounds and search for a choke. I think Jordan is going to be able to do it, judging by the way Burnell was able to repeatedly take down Allen without being the most explosive wrestler, and the fact that Rinaldi had little trouble doing the same to Jason Knight. Allen found himself controlled in that fight and I suspect Rinaldi is better than Burnell at establishing control and passing to gain mount or back position. Once there it is almost impossible to get rid of him.
The pick here is Rinaldi to win at dog money, and a play on Rinaldi by submission makes sense. Odds are great and if Rinaldi is winning the fight it means he is on top of Allen which would spell trouble for the young man. Rinaldi sinks in the rear naked choke here for the win.
In the battle of Wales, two brawlers meet at welterweight. Phillips has lost all his UFC appearances by stoppage and has only seen the final bell once in his career. He marches forward and throws hard. He is poweful and gutsy, and that is about all you can say about him. He is the owner of one of the worst ground games in the whole roster and once the fight hits the matt he is helpless.
Marshman, who has missed weight for this contest, is also a fighter that likes to mix it up. He is technically superior everywhere to Phillips, and even though he is not one to go for takedowns and prefers to dish it out on the feet, that is an easy path to victory here for him. Standing up with Phillips would be an idiotic move and would give Phillips a chance in this fight. There is not much more to say about these two gentlemen. Marshman showed in his early days he has the ability to take the fight to the floor and submit low level grapplers there and I expect him to do the same here. It would be the most intelligent option and he seems to acknowledge it by the way he has been talking to the press this week.
The pick here is Marshman to submit Phillips, and fight not to go to decision is a good parlay leg to add value to some other bets.
“Hannibal” Silva meets “Hot Chocolate” Roberts. The quintaessential striker vs grappler matchup. This fight is not difficult at all to break down. We last saw Silva submitting Nordine Taleb inside one round after a long layoff due to injuries. He is basically undefeated in his career as his only loss came in his debut via disqualification, although he may be past his prime by now. Danny Roberts has alternated big wins an big losses inside the octagon. He is a decent fighter everywhere but primarily a striker with a kickboxing style. Quite athletic, his striking is good and he is dangerous when he finds a good rythm. He has stopped twelve opponents in sixteen wins and has been stopped himself in all three losses. His loss to Mike Perry was specially brutal.
Enter Claudio Silva. Awful striker, swings for the fences until he can find a clinch or a takedown entry from where he can begin to implement his grappling game. A very high level Jiu Jitsu black belt, if he ends up on top you have a problem. There is no secret about his gameplan here. He will march forward and try to put Roberts down to find a submission as early as possible.
If the fight goes to the matt, Silva wins it and probably submits Roberts. If it stays standing, Roberts is gonna piece him up most probably. How is this gonna play out? I see two very important factors here. Number one, Silva uses single leg takedowns primarily to get opposition down and Roberts has been susceptible to them in the past. Number two, I have seen Roberts too happy about scrambling and playing on the matt to like him here. In his last fight he risked too much on the ground against a probably superior grappler in David Zawada.
The pick here is Claudio Silva to win by submission. This prop is ranked at a very poor (-105) and offers little value. As both contestants have clear ways to finish, the logical play for this fight is fight does not go to decision.
English fan favourite and action fighter Nathaniel Wood meets “Teco” Quiñonez in a bantamweight clash. Quiñonez is an agressive fighter and if this stays on the feet it should be a good scrap. However he seems to favour grappling approaches in most of his fights. Four of his five UFC fights have gone to decision and we last saw him outpoint Ishihara over three rounds. Nathaniel Wood is a finisher, and has only seen the final bell twice in his career in eighteen contests. Once a brawler in Cage Warriors, the young prospect is quickly developing into a potential threat at the weight to the top ranked fighters. He is dangerous everywhere and his grappling game has improved over the last couple of years. Even though vulnerable in the past, he showed an also improved striking game in his last fight against tricky striker Andre Ewell and completely dominated the action.
How does this fight play out? Wood is listed as an almost three to one favourite and rightfully so. I heavily favour him to win this fight and probably stop Quiñonez along the way. Teco´s best chance is to implement a wrestling heavy gameplan from the beggining and, if he is able to do it, use top control to steal rounds and do damage. I think Wood is gonna do well in this fight though and I see him dominating the action from the early going. The pick here is Wood to win, probably by knockout after catching Quiñonez on the feet.
In a light heavyweight matchup surging talent Reyes meets “No Time” Oezdemir. Reyes has benn impressive since his UFC debut getting dominant wins without much issue. His biggest test came in his last fight, in which he dominated Ovince Saint Preux on his way to a unanimous decision that should have been a knockout as Ovince was saved by the bell but clearly out on the ground. Volkan ascended the rankings in a similar way bludgeoning Jimmy Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov but was easily destroyed by Daniel Cormier in a fight for the title and then lost by submission against Anthony Smith after badly fading three rounds into the fight.
Reyes is competent wherever the fight goes but he is primarily a striker. Huge for the division, he is a talented and powerful southpaw. His footwork and fluidity might be just the best in the division. He boxes beautifully to set up his rear hand and knows how to use angles. He is also a good kicker and knows how to do damage in the pocket. Even though he has not faced great wrestlers yet his takedown defence seems to be very good, added to the fact that he is a very good athlete. He is no slouch on the ground neither, he even has two submissions to his name and can easily resort to his Jiu Jitsu to finish a hurt opponent if needed, although he primarily looks for the knockout.
Volkan Oezdemir is a striker and not a refined one. He is stupidly strong and powerful and specially dangerous in the first round, where he gets most of his victories. He will have a height and reach disadvantage here. He kicks extremelly hard too, but is basic there again. His cardio is not good and his grappling is horrible or at least that is what we can deduce by watching his fights until now. This is a first round knockout or bust for Volkan in my opinion, and that is a tall order here.
I expect Dominick Reyes to dominate this fight and put an end to Volkan´s night before the final bell. Would not surprise me if he stopped Volkan early but I think he will thoroughly outclass him on the feet on way to a late stoppage over a tired Oezdemir, maybe mixing some takedowns if needed. The pick here is Dominick Reyes to win, and fight not to go the distance.